The Top DFS Running Back and Defense Stacks: Week 3
These are the Week 3 running back-defense stacks on FanDuel and DraftKings. I'll examine where we might be able to get a solid defensive performance and volume-driven running production, including at least one RB-defense stack that will have minimal usage.
One should not base their weekly DFS lineup composition on the RB-DEF stack, as the correlation isn’t nearly as strong as the QB-WR1 combo, for example. But considering RB1s—and only RB1s—get a decent bump in production when their team’s defense scores at least 15 fantasy points, it’s worthwhile to see where this stack might offer upside and differentiation for those who play large-field DFS tournaments. Running backs and defenses from the same team often face positive circumstances together.
It's these conditions that lead to fantasy points. Sometimes a lot of fantasy points—the kind that swing DFS tournaments.
Our Week 2 RB-defense stacks flamed out mostly due to injuries—or recoveries from injuries. Joe Mixon suited up for Cincinnati and spoiled our Gio Bernard-Bengals stack. The Cincy defense ran into a buzz saw anyway. The Mark Ingram-Ravens stack went straight to crap as the running back was banged up early and only carried the ball 13 times. The Derrick Henry-Titans combo fared OK, finishing with a combined 26 fantasy points.
Let's get into Week 3 and see where we can double dip on that sweet positive game script.
Dalvin Cook/Vikings vs. Raiders
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 20.8%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 22.2%
We have an embarrassment of riches with RB-DEF combos this week, though the best options are quite naturally priced through the proverbial roof. I see the Cook-Vikings stack as something close to irresistible at (almost) any price point.
Minnesota ($4,200 FD/$3,300 DK) heads into this matchup as eight-point home favorites. They square off against a Raiders defense that has so far appeared solid against the run, but have faced two teams (Denver and KC) that haven't tried to run all that much, or never had the chance. The Vikings are different: their express goal is to establish the run and never relent. They've run on almost 57% of their offensive plays through two weeks, with Cook ($8,300 FD/$7,800 DK) seeing 20 and 21 rushes in Week 1 and Week 2, respectively. Any neutral or positive script and we know Cook will have ample opportunity. He also has six targets through two games despite the Vikings throwing the ball an average of 21 times. Cook has the third-highest ceiling among running backs this week, per 4for4 floor and ceiling projections.
Derek Carr's Week 2 collapse in the face of negative game script is nothing new for the Raiders quarterback. He's always struggled when the tide turns against Oakland, throwing an average of 0.99 interceptions per game and seeing his completion rate fall by almost 4% in losses. Carr is an easy target for fantasy defenses when Oakland is likely to play from behind, forcing Carr to drop back again and again. The Vikings defense, meanwhile, has sacked the quarterback on 7% of their defensive snaps this season—the 10th-highest rate in the NFL. I'm not hesitating to pay up for the Minnesota defense this week (even on DraftKings) in a prime spot.
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 19.6%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 19.6%
I've been told that I'm legally obligated to write up any team favored by more than 20 points. It's positive game script that we're seeking, after all. I'm only going to do one of the two massive Week 3 favorites.
While the Ezekiel Elliott-Dallas combo is an undeniably juicy one, I'd prefer the Patriots stack. It's $2,000 cheaper than the Cowboys stack on FanDuel, $3,400 cheaper on DraftKings, and I'd guess it won't have nearly the same ownership percentage in large field Week 3 tournaments. The New England stack obviously has a lower floor, with running back trickery always a possibility, but I believe the ceiling is similar to the Dallas option (the Michel-Pats stack has a projected ceiling seven points lower than Dallas). And that's what we're after here: upside.
Sony Michel ($6,800 FD/$6,000 DK), who saw 21 rushing attempts last week in the insanely good script of the Patriots' drubbing of the Dolphins, is in line for another nice workload against the Jets. New England has a brain-melting implied total of 33.5 points here. Michel has averaged 17.8 rushing attempts per game in Patriots wins since the start of 2018. If Michel can manage more than his horrifying 2.8 yards per carry, he might put up a sideways number in Week 3. He certainly maintains touchdown upside.
Someone named Luke Falk is the starting quarterback for New York, as the Patriots continue their 2019 Harlem Globetrotters schedule. No defense is even close to the Patriots' defensive upside, per the floor and ceiling machine. There are enough cheap quarterback options this week to make splurging on the New England defense feasible. Falk could be under constant duress in this one—the Patriots have sacked the quarterback on 8.5% of their defensive plays this season. With the Jets having close to no chance of operating a balanced offense as 23-point dogs, Falk will be forced to drop back and throw against a vicious Pats defense. That's the good stuff.
Combined percentage of FanDuel salary: 17.3%
Combined percentage of DraftKings salary: 18.2%
Pete Carroll confirmed that despite Rashaad Penny popping for 62 yards on 10 carries last week against the Steelers, Chris Carson ($7,000 FD/$5,900 DK) remains the Seahawks' lead back. Carson, after all, had 15 carries against Pittsburgh and was called upon to plow through the line for a game-clinching first down late in the fourth quarter.
Carson now has 39 touches through two weeks. The kicker: New Orleans has been attacked via the run so far this season; only 10 teams have seen more rushing attempts against them through two weeks. Seattle ($3,400 FD/$3,200 DK), as expected, is one of the league's run-heaviest squads, rushing on almost 48% of their offensive plays. Seattle, a four-point home favorite, has an implied total of 24.5 points against the Saints. Carson on FanDuel this week has a projected ceiling just 1.5 points less than Alvin Kamara, who costs $1,000 more.
We're still not sure who will be behind center for New Orleans this Sunday. Head coach Sean Payton seems intent on pretending Taysom Hill could get the call. Maybe Hill and Teddy Bridgewater will split time at QB with Drew Brees out. Who knows. Whoever plays quarterback for the Saints this week, they'll probably see a lot of bad game script. While Bridgewater's completion rate actually rises in losses, I think Seattle's defense could still be in line for turnovers and sacks if the Seahawks seize the lead. Bridgewater last week against LA completed a meager 56.6% of his passes. The Seahawks defense has the week's ninth-highest projected ceiling.